Arm yourself with knowledge!

No snooze, you lose

Description: No snooze, you lose

In our 24/7 culture, there are more temptations than ever to stay up late. But considering sleep is absolutely essential for health and normal functioning, it’s important to get adequate shuteye. Also, it’s called beauty sleep for a reason! Swedish research took photos of women when they were well rested and then again when they were sleep deprived. Strangers asked to rate the images found the well-rested shots more attractive!

Being happy…isn’t just all in the mind. Those good feelings help physical health too.

Studies show that a positive attitude benefits physical health and longevity – and not just our mental and emotional health, according to David Hamilton, author of How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body (Hay House). Here are just five health benefits to being happy. For more, go to drdavidhamilton.com

  1. Counting blessings aids mental health. Warm feelings of gratitude produce more of the chemical dopamine in the cerebral frontal cortex of the brain, causing us to feel happier.
  2. Being positive is good for the heart. Optimists aren’t as stressed during typical daily challenges and overcome negative events faster, putting less stress on the cardiovascular system, says Hamilton.
  3. Happiness aids the immune system. Being down is associated with an increase in the chemical norephinephrine, which reduces immune system response.
  4. Smiling helps us live longer. Research shows that people who genuinely smile (using the muscles besides their eyes) are 20 percent more likely to live past 80 than those who don’t.
  5. Happiness is the best medicine. One study found that those who were more positive got less sick and recovered faster. This is thanks to immunoglobulin A, a chemical that’s released when we feel good that also helps us bounce back from illness.

A web of support

Caring for a child with autism is one of the most challenging tasks for parents around the world. A new website called MyAutismTeam.com allows for parents of autistic children to connect and share their concerns, personal stories and questions.

“Our mission is simple,” says founder Eric Peacock. “When you or a loved one is diagnosed with autism, it should be easy to find the best people around to help you. You should be able to find other parents who’ve been in your shoes.”

According to Autism South Africa, one child in every 150 has an autism-related disorder. For parents of autistic children who feel their friends can’t relate to their experiences, this site is a wonderful and supportive forum that allows parents to feel understood and encouraged.

A clean sweep

Description: A clean sweep

When brushing your teeth, you invariably follow the same pattern – say, from upper left to lower right.

Unfortunately, since most of us tend to start out stronger then ease off, that means one or two sections of your mouth end up getting a more thorough cleansing than the others, says dentist Lou Graham. Solve the problem by simply charting a different course in your mouth each time you brush. And to really go for the gold (or white), swap your manual toothbrush for an electric model. “They pulse and oscillate up to 40,000 times per minute,” he says, “which makes them much better at removing plague and bacteria.”

But oral hygiene means more than pristine pearly whites – teeth and gums are an indicator of your body’s wellbeing. New evidence links gum disease to everything from diabetes to a 30 percent higher chance of heart problems. Gum disease is an indicator of overall poor health, and these three warning signs should never be ignored.

  1. Blood on your toothbrush: A sign of Gum disease that is too often ignored. If you see any sign of blood, make an appointment with your dentist today.
  2. Persistent ulcers: These can be a sign of oral cancer, which affects 20 percent more people now that it did 30 years ago. Get it checked out.
  3. Pain: Whether in your teeth or your whole jaw, don’t leave it until it gets worse. It may be a sign of tooth decay or teeth grinding, also known as bruxism.

Did you know? If you need a refreshing night’s sleep for a big day ahead, don’t drink alcohol – at all! New research shows that even one drink (and yes, that includes that after-work glass of white) switches on part of the nervous system that stimulates us. This raises our heart rate as we sleep, and switches off the “rest and digest” part that should be more dominant at night.


When PMS becomes more than a monthly nuisance, it may be time to seek medical attention.

For some women that time of the month may have just become more manageable. A new study in the journal Obstretrics & Gynecology shows that antidepressants can help treat symptoms of PMS.

According to Dr. Sascha Edelstein, a gynaecologist and SHAPE advisory board member. “Most women experience symptoms related to their menstrual cycle. But for a small group of women  these symptoms are severe and impact on their quality of life, interpersonal and professional activities.”

For these women, antidepressants have been proven to be effective in reducing symptoms of tension, irritability and dysphoria (depressed mood). While this treatment is best for women who experience both physical and psychological symptoms, others should consider less drastic remedies, like painkillers, diet changes and exercise.

Don’t stay at home, Mom!

If you’re considering becoming a stay-at-home mom, it’s time to think again. A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology shows that working mothers are happier and healthier than mothers who stay at home.

Research found that mothers with young children who work full- or part-time are less depressed, experience better health and little conflict at work and at home. Stay at-home moms can be isolated and are more likely to become depressed and experience more stress when they’re at home with their young children all day.

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